Lenten Reflections 2017: Second Week of Lent

February 16, 2017

By: Dan Misleh, Executive Director, Catholic Climate Covenant

Sunday, March 12, 2017

To Hear God’s Voice

There is something both frightening and appealing about God speaking from on high.  In both the readings from Genesis and Matthew, we hear God’s powerful voice.  To Abram, God says that he will lead Abram to a new land and make a great nation of his offspring. That must have been appealing.

In Matthew’s Gospel, God speaks directly to Jesus’ friends: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” I imagine that must have been a bit frightening.

I’ll admit to more than a few times where I used my booming, god-like voice to discipline my three kids.  I hoped that my “Listen to me!” would result in instantaneous obedience and heartfelt apologies. But the results were mixed, at best.  Sometimes it even produced giggles which, depending on how miffed I was, would either fuel my anger or pierce through and get me laughing at myself for the silliness of my irrational demands.

Wouldn’t it be nice if God would raise his voice today and tell us in no uncertain terms what a mess we’ve made of things?  From our incarceration rates to climate change; from our callousness towards the hungry and the homeless to the heart wrenching and incomprehensible tragedy of human trafficking.  Can’t God just say, “Hey: enough down there!  What are you thinking?”

But often it is a whisper. God sometimes tells us how much we are loved.  But more often, we hear God’s voice through our nagging conscience.  God loves and God challenges.  Our Lenten sacrifices are symbolic of our will—and God’s desire—to be more human, more compassionate, more loving, more attentive and more kind.  Can we be better parents or friends or sons or daughters?  Can we also find ways to resist a culture that sucks us into ignoring the pain and suffering of our brothers or sisters?  Or, better yet, to be fully open to encountering the “other,” as Pope Francis encourages us to do. This Lent, can we commit to “bear [our] share of hardship for the gospel” that Paul speaks of, but remembering that we do so “with the strength that comes from God”?